Evaluating the process of partnership and research in global health: Reflections from the STRIPE project
Binte Anwar, Humayra
Akinyemi, Oluwaseun O.
Rahimi, Ahmad Omid
Alonge, Olakunle O.
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CitationShahabuddin, A. S. M., Sharkey, A. B., Jackson, D., Rutter, P., Hasman, A., & Sarker, M. (2020). Carrying out embedded implementation research in humanitarian settings: A qualitative study in Cox’s bazar, Bangladesh. PLoS Medicine, 17(7) doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1003148
Background: Thoughtful and equitable engagement with international partners is key to successful research. STRIPE, a consortium of 8 academic and research institutions across the globe whose objective is to map, synthesize, and disseminate lessons learned from polio eradication, conducted a process evaluation of this partnership during the project’s first year which focused on knowledge mapping activities. Methods: The STRIPE consortium is led by Johns Hopkins University (JHU) in partnership with 6 universities and 1 research consultancy organization in polio free, at-risk, and endemic countries. In December 2018 JHU team members submitted written reflections on their experiences (n = 9). We held calls with each consortium member to solicit additional feedback (n = 7). To establish the partnership evaluation criteria we conducted preliminary analyses based on Blackstock’s framework evaluating participatory research. In April 2019, an in-person consortium meeting was held; one member from each institution was asked to join a process evaluation working group. This group reviewed the preliminary criteria, adding, subtracting, and combining as needed; the final evaluation criteria were applied to STRIPE’s research process and partnership and illustrative examples were provided. Results: Twelve evaluation criteria were defined and applied by each member of the consortium to their experience in the project. These included access to resources, expectation setting, organizational context, external context, quality of information, relationship building, transparency, motivation, scheduling, adaptation, communication and engagement, and capacity building. For each criteria members of the working group reflected on general and context-specific challenges and potential strategies to overcome them. Teams suggested providing more time for recruitment, training, reflection, pre-testing. and financing to alleviate resource constraints. Given the large scope of the project, competing priorities, and shifting demands the working group also suggested a minimum of one fulltime project coordinator in each setting to manage resources. Conclusion: Successful management of multi-country, multicentered implementation research requires comprehensive communication tools (which to our knowledge do not exist yet or are not readily available), expectation setting, and institutional support. Capacity building activities that address human resource needs for both individuals and their institutions should be incorporated into early project planning.